Gangs of Godavari review: Vishwak Sen, Neha Sshetty, Anjali's film falls short of being compelling - Hindustan Times
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Gangs of Godavari review: Vishwak Sen, Neha Sshetty, Anjali's film falls short of being compelling

ByNeeshita Nyayapati
May 31, 2024 03:23 PM IST

Gangs of Godavari review: Krishna Chaitanya tries to tell the tale of a man who finds out how lonely it can be on top, the hard way.

Gangs of Godavari review: Krishna Chaitanya’s Gangs of Godavari is the kind of film that keeps you glued to the screen, yet you get the nagging feeling that something’s missing. When the music by Yuvan Shankar Raja overpowers some scenes, dropping cues on how to feel, you realise the film lacks a soul. Starring Vishwak Sen, Neha Sshetty, and Anjali in the lead roles, the film delves into the power dynamics of (you guessed it) Godavari, where being powerful is everything for a few men. (Also Read: Vishwak Sen opens up about his role in Gangs of Godavari: ‘It's my best’)

Gangs of Godavari review: Vishwak Sen and Neha Sshetty in a still from the film.
Gangs of Godavari review: Vishwak Sen and Neha Sshetty in a still from the film.

Gangs of Godavari story

Rathna (Vishwak) is a street-smart man who wants to claw his way to the top, no matter what it takes. MLA Dora Saami Raju (Goparaju Ramana) and Nanaji (Nassar) are the men unknowingly aiding Rathna in becoming a force of nature, aka Tiger Rathnakar. The film explores themes of ambition, power, and the price one pays for success. Everything and everyone in Rathna’s way seems to be a pawn in his game. But he soon learns how lonely having the power he craves can be.

Gangs of Godavari review

Krishna narrates the story of Rathna, his rise to becoming Tiger Rathnakar and, soon, both the most dreaded and most wanted man in Godavari at breakneck speed. While this helps to hold your attention for 2-hours-26-minutes, it doesn’t allow you to feel for Rathna when his eventual downfall comes around. His confidante Rathnamala (Anjali) and wife Bujji (Neha) are his grounding forces, but the man admittedly remains a mystery even to them, let alone the audience. The film also touches on caste politics in certain scenes but falls short of going all in.

Vishwak as Rathna

Vishwak has made a career out of playing the troubled, aggressive protagonist with a painful past. And while it’s interesting to see him let go of his Telangana twang for a more neutral Andhra dialect, the performance begins to feel one-note as the film progresses. There are only so many times you can see him stabbing or cussing at people before you wonder if Rathna even cares about anyone but himself. The shoddy attempts to redeem his character with a weepy flashback and a random scene in which he shows emotion for a dead orphan don’t work.

Unintentionally funny dialogues

For a film that relies so much on dialogues - given that it’s the only way to feel for these characters who do heinous things - they leave you wanting more. Even worse, they make you chuckle. In one scene, Rathna proclaims, “Aadadi, dabbu, ye gadi loki aina vellagalav (Women and money can go into any room).” Bujji admits her love to Rathna by saying, “Mee to paddhati ga pelli cheskovali ani undi. Mee to paddhati ga pillalu kanali ani undi (I want to properly marry you. I want to properly have kids with you).” You get the drift.

Gangs of Godavari review: Vishwak Sen plays the ambitious Rathna in the film.
Gangs of Godavari review: Vishwak Sen plays the ambitious Rathna in the film.

In conclusion

After all that, Krishna almost gives you a justifiable ending before pulling the rug from under you. Given how polarising Rathna’s character is, one thing that works for the film is seeing how his paranoia gets the best of him. While he has made enemies out of friends, too, it is ultimately his own doing that turns his world to dust. But a leopard never changes its spots, and while Rathna might get the forgiveness he has wanted for years, you can’t help but feel he might not exactly deserve it.

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